Tuesday, October 30, 2012

UK Style Hill Climbs???

Saw this over at RKP and tought it was... Well.. Awesome!!

Tuesdays with Wilcockson: Could UK-style hill climbs be big in the US?October 30, 2012 by    

Jonathan Vaughters climbs one of England’s notoriously steep hills.
Since I moved to the States, American friends have often asked me what I miss most about “England’s green and pleasant land.” I tell them I miss the expected things: meeting old friends for a chat at the village pub, hiking with my brother in the Surrey hills, or watching a good game of English football. But what I really miss—and only a British club cyclist would fully understand—is hill-climb season.
English hill climbs aren’t long, but they’re very, very steep! These short, intense time trials organized by cycling clubs all over the country are among the most popular events in British cycling. Maybe we should import the idea to America….
Hill-climb season happens right now, peaking around Halloween, when there’s a nip in the air, a thick mist hanging over waterlogged fields, and slick, wet leaves covering the back roads where the races take place. These hill climbs are usually two- or three-minute efforts up near-vertical, ancient roads that over the centuries have cut a trench into chalk or sandstone ridges. And the climbs have evocative names such as Horseblock Hollow, Pea Royd Lane, or The Rake.
This past Sunday, a 22-year-old club cyclist from Lancashire named Jack Pullar won the British national hill climb championship on that very hill: The Rake. It starts outside the library in the village of Ramsbottom, passes the Rose & Crown pub a short way up the climb’s easier opening half, and finishes just before another pub, the Shoulder of Mutton. Thousands of fans, most of whom arrived by bike, lined the 874-meter-long climb that averages 11 percent, and has long stretches of between 20 and 25 percent.
Competitors on Sunday had to cope with head winds and a fine drizzle, making it tough to avoid wheel spin on the steepest parts, so Pullar didn’t get closer than five seconds to the course record of 2:16.9. That time was set, remarkably, 19 years ago by Jeff Wright, who used a fixed gear of 42×19 on a good day! Fixed-gear bikes are preferred on these short, sharp ascents because of the more-direct transfer of power to the single rear cog.
Such is the intensity of “sprinting” up these rugged climbs that some riders end up zigzagging across the road or even having to stop and run. Most are in agony when they finish. After his championship-winning effort, Pullar told Cycling Weekly: “My body shut down when I finished, and even when my friends told me I’d won, I said I couldn’t have cared less.”
There are few efforts in cycling that are as demanding as a British hill climb. You quickly go into the red zone, just as you would in a kilometer time trial or individual pursuit on the track. But there’s no elevation gain riding around a velodrome! I can still remember a hill climb I did up that aforementioned Horseblock Hollow, which averages 11.4 percent for a kilometer with some of those nasty 20-percent pitches that characterize English climbs. The anaerobic effort was so excruciating that, on stopping, I lurched to the side of the road like a drunkard and threw up.
It’s because every rider has to race at his or her maximum intensity that hill climbs are so popular with spectators. The starting order in English time trials is different from those in Europe, where the fastest riders nearly always start at the end of the field. In the UK, in a field of 120 riders, the best riders are seeded from the back, but at 10-minute intervals, with bib numbers 10, 20…through to 100, 110 and 120. That keeps the crowd’s interest high throughout the event, usually with a resounding climax at the end.
Virtually all of the UK’s hill climbs take place in September and October, with the top national contenders probably riding a dozen separate races, sometimes twice on the same weekend. One of the most popular, and easily the oldest, is the Catford Classic Hill Climb, which was first held in 1886 and has been staged for the past 127 years, except for breaks during the two world wars. It’s held on a course an hour south of London. Yorks Hill, which starts at a dead-end farm lane, climbs for 646 meters (707 yards) at a 12.5-percent average gradient, with two pitches of 25 percent. Amazingly, despite advances in bike technology and training, the course record of 1:47.6 by South London rider Phil Mason has stood for 29 years!
Just a handful of Britain’s hill climbs are longer than 10 minutes, with the short, sharp ones giving fans the most excitement. And just as cyclo-cross has successfully crossed the Atlantic, perhaps UK-style hill climbs could be the next big thing for bike racing in North America, especially if they are compressed into a similar, short season in the fall.
Most of the current U.S. hill climbs, up mountain peaks such as Mount Washington in New Hampshire, Mount Evans in Colorado, and Mount Tamalpais in California, are held in the summer and are mass-start road races, not time trials. The few uphill TTs include those at Pinnacle Hill, near Albany, New York; Lookout Mountain, near Denver; and San Bruno Mountain, near San Francisco. These are all 15-minute climbs, which is at the top end of the classic UK hill-climb format.
The nearest we’ve come to a British-style event was the one raced up the Manayunk Wall in Philadelphia, which was an amateur time trial held on the Friday night prior to the Philadelphia International Championship. In 2000, that race was also contested by a number of pros, with the victory going to former U.S. pro champ Eddy Gragus, who recorded a 1:50.18 for the one-kilometer course—which had a flat opening section before reaching the 400-meter Wall and its maximum grade of 17 percent.
Many American cities have steep streets that could host hill climbs—including places such as Pittsburgh, Richmond, San Francisco or Seattle—while most experienced riders know about steep hills in their local areas. Imagine a race up Sycamore Street in Pittsburgh, which was a highlight of the Thrift Drug Classic in the 1990s; or up San Francisco’s Telegraph Hill, which has seen prologues for the Coors Classic in the 1980s and the more-recent Tour of California.
Short, snappy hill climbs in the autumn are made for riders who race criteriums all summer. In fact, in the month before he started an unbeaten run in this year’s hill-climb season, new British climbing champ Pullar was doing a crit series—and now he’s talking of following in the footsteps of his countrymen Chris Froome, John Tiernan-Locke and Brad Wiggins, and heading to the Continent.
Curiously, British television has yet to embrace hill climbs, but their sudden-death format and enthusiastic crowds are compelling ingredients for great viewing. And in this country, where reality TV is king, a sports event with instant impact could even make it big. I’d love it to happen because, then, I wouldn’t get homesick in hill-climb season.

Damn!!! My legs burn just watching this thing!!!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Joules Cross (Day 1)

Wow, what a race... Head on over to TwinSix get a race report.

Little bit more detailed one here.

I really like this course, it levels the playing field for some of us who ride fat tires a bunch.

The Cat 3 field was a bit smaller than usual 18 I think, down from our 30+. I still recognized quite a few of the usual suspects and then Doug Long decided to throw his hat in the ring. CHoppe just told me that he was riding very well, but did not think much of it at the time.

Race started great, after the start I sat in comfortably about 4 back. The pace was not very crazy yet, so I just sat on some wheels and see how it plays out. Once section went around a pond, a steep downhill, left turn and then back up the hill. This was my first race on my killer set up disc carbon tubluars. The Tufo's comer on rails. This is my fist set of tubluars and I grew very confident in them very quickly.
Climbing back up this section behind the pond
On the first time through this section I was able to rail the corner and take up a position rather easily. Took up second and then took up a mini attack after the "spiral of death" and took the lead. Hells to the yes!!!
This is my first lead ever in a Cat 3 race and let me tell you I was planning to make the most of it.
Chasing Jake in the Spiral od
Lap 2 in and I had made a small gap on the guys behind me. Bombed down the hill behind the pond and I bit it hard! Ended up head over heels and went from First to Fifth just like that..

I was still feeling pretty good, messed up the bike a little bit but still rideable. Took up a place or two and then Doug Long blew right by me. I held on his wheel during the flat section up top, but could barley do that.
For those that don't know him, he just blew away the 60+ Masters and is now kicking my arse.

Down to a handful of laps to go and Doug and I are pulling back up to John and Jake in the lead. When I say Doug and I what I mean is Dough is pulling and I am chasing onto his wheel like a mad man.
3 laps to go and I think we have a good shot at getting back before the last lap.

Halfway though the lap and one of the race refs (I don't know what to call them) ran to us ringing a cow bell saying oilha[ofei one oijoij[sipoj] hjso[hoihj hoiafhe9 left....
You know, when your 30 min deep into a 45 min race, you have like 25% oxygen remaining in your head. After a couple turns later its slowly starts sinking in... Did she say this is the last lap?
I  held up my pace contemplating what to do, I am not sure what in the hell is going on at this point. Then as were running out of real estate I thought it better to hammer it home, just in case it actually is the last lap. Caught up with Doug at the top of the hill and he held my wheel pretty good. We closed a little gap between 1 & 2 but it was too late... I sprinted the final straight away and looked back to see where Doug was and it became clear he had no idea this was the last lap. So I snatched 3rd on the day.

Felt a bit bad for Doug he was going really strong, had he not had a race under his belt I am pretty sure he would have whooped all our arses at the ripe age of 60 years young.

Owe, forgot to add the race was cut short because someone went down pretty hard I guess. Broke his collarbone and they had to cut it short to let the ambulance get to him. Hope you recover well and get back in the saddle soon.





Monday, October 15, 2012

My CX rig just went from pretty good to bad arse!

Sold a Surly and got myself some upgrades to the cross rig!! 


After (and more than 3lbs later)!


Thank You, to Justin and Travis at  Horizon Cycling for my components and Britton at Volker Bikes for the wheels!!!!

Friday, October 12, 2012

360 Cup

360 crew put on a great event last weekend! I did my usual race Saturday and bail on Sunday weekend CX racing.
It was about 40 degrees out, but with that wind blowing it felt like it was 20 at times. The 3's did not go off til 2 so I spoke to Roger a bit about the course and it looked like we have yet another power course on our hands. Owe boy!
Pic from last weeks boss cross. Why are there so few pics of Saturday CX races?
I pre-registered this time so I could get a call up and not have to deal with all my starts in the back of the pack. Smart huh!!

After a couple pre laps it was go time. I remember last year, as long as I could get in the first three rows I was golden. I can "usually" clip in quick and take off ahead of the pack. Whistle blew, were off and I can't get clipped in for the life of me... YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING!!!

Good little video of the start and then he must have passed me at some point because I finished right behind him.
I had a decent race.. Held onto the tail end of the lead group for about 2 laps where I began to fade a little bit. The course was balls out the entire time! The only time it wasn't was just before the finish area where there were some 180's etc.

After 2 laps I lost track of the top 3 but the rest of us kept pretty close the entire race. I was yo-yoing off the  tail end of the top 10 with three guys riding my arse to keep me going. About as soon as I thought I was going to catch the Colavita/Parisi train in front of me they would catch a glimpse of me around the corner and pick up the pace and drop me again.

Every lap someone was going down on the soft corners. I did not find the course very technical but perhaps that's my problem. Not going fast enough to loose control! I was not able to capitalize on many of them, bunch of guys put the hurt-en on me that day.

Last lap and everyone is going 100% every second of this lap. I was jumping every corner trying to catch the boys in front and then a Tallgrass dude has closed a decent gap from behind. All for nothing though I stayed in the same position for the duration. 10th out of 30(something).

At first I was pretty disappointed in my place, but man, this race was fast. I about vomited when we finished, I had not felt like that in a while.

Here is a great video that was put together by Keith Walberg over on Vimeo (I can't figure out how to embed this one, you'll have to click the link)

Open guys up next and just have to say I love seeing the newbies in that class! You might be getting your ass handed to you right now, but its AWESOME! I love it!!

Keep it up - SC, El Hombre Loco and Mark Horn (we have to come up with a nickname Mark)!



Friday, October 5, 2012

Best Video I Have Seen in a Long Time!!

Saw this over on Tilfords site. Its awesome! I can't quit smiling when I watch it!!

Malcolm's first Descent of the first ramp on Hellion at Highland Park (age 4 yrs). Thanks everyone for your encouragement and comments. Malcolm lives in Maine. We ride often at Highland Mtn Bike Park enjoying not only the incredible trails, but the supportive and friendly community and staff which Mark Hayes has created. Kudos to all of you there, and thanks for having us. Malcolm also participted in The Maine Youth Bike Race Series (in Falmouth, ME) this past summer. It's another wonderful place for kids to get together to ride and have fun. Thanks to Andrew Freye for organizing this event. 
Malcs is indeed 4 years old and hopes that this video will encourage other kids and their caregivers to get out there and ride! Again, glad people are enjoying the video
-Dan (aka Malc's Dad)

Enjoy! & your welcome!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Boss Cross 1 (Saturday)

So as it turns out, my dnf last week was right about the time that separates the race from fun to holy crap why do I do this to myself.  Boss Cross 1 (Saturday) was my second race of the season but the first one I actually got to finish. And that time that separates the race is only like 1/3 into it.
EH Young Park is a pretty good venue, relatively flat but fast. OMG fast.. I usually prefer hilly and slow, so I thought this was going to be interesting to say the least.

Did some warm-ups with El Hombre Loco being very mindful to get my last pre race bathroom break in so I don’t line up in the back like I did at Manions.  Did a couple of laps got everything primed and dialed in, stopped to talk to JWill and wouldn’t you know it, they are flippen lined up. Here I am sitting 30 back. AGAIN!

Race whistle blows and were off. Well, the first 15 or so are, we just stand there for 5 to 10 seconds before were off and then bottleneck in the first turn.  Like usual there are a couple fellas falling around some of the “technical” stuff but nothing serious like this group the following day..

I work my way past 15 or so where I seemed to hit a spot where everyone is going about the same pace. Me and about 2-4 guys are playing leap frog for about 2-3 laps… Leaders are way gone at this point. I think I saw El Hombre Loco ½ a lap ahead of us already on the first or second lap. Also at this time the top 2 to 3 SS guys smoked by us.

I know I was pushing myself pretty well, I do remember thinking that this sucks. That’s my internal barometer of how much effort I am putting into the race. If I am miserable and ask myself why I do this, I am going as hard as I should. If I think to myself, wow, this is fun, then I am not going nearly as hard as I should be.

Down to about 3 laps left I am closing a gap on JWill a little bit. I caught him about the time I was riding down this stair section and dropped my chain. Man it sucks to be putting in a huge effort to see it go in a matter of seconds. Luckily I was able to put my chain back on without any trouble, so I was back in the chase.

Last lap and I get John within my sights, all while I can’t quite seem to drop the guy behind me chasing.  Once we hit the home stretch we had to go through two sand pits, one you ran (everyone did minus, Joe S and Elwell in the open race) and the second you could ride though. I hit the section as full gas but ended up about two bike lengths away from John for a mediocre 10th out of 33(ish).

From last year, I somehow had forgotten how hard cross is. I absolutely love it for that, nice to put my body through the shock of it all. Add some fuel to the fire and start looking to the next race!
As it turns out , I have a bit of work to do this season if I even want to entertain the thought of racing open later.

I can’t find any pictures anywhere, will post if I do..
Check out some of the other race blogs on the left…

On a MTB note, Cameron won the 24hr national title again. From what I read, destroyed the competition.